All of a sudden, here we are at the end of the third weekend of the month, again! This year is just flying by, it really is.
And it’s time for another update on my plan to live a little more consciously. Here’s February’s update, if you’re keeping track. Last month I spent a lot of time thinking about food. This month I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about time, and what I do with it.
One of the main points of this conscious living thing for me is about being happy with the way I spend my time, and that involves asking some difficult questions, ones that I’ve mostly asked myself before, but it’s good to ask them again sometimes.
What paid work do I do? How much time do I spend at work? How much energy? Which bits of my work do I enjoy? What would I change?
Is my work making a useful contribution to the world? To my own enjoyment of life? Is that contribution to my life more than just financial?
What do I do outside work? Do I do any voluntary work? Could I? What could I do?
How do I relax? What do I do for exercise? What does my social life look like? How do I spend my evenings and weekends? Am I happy with these things?
Do I get enough sleep? Do I eat well? Do I spend lots of my time grumbling about things?
You might think none of this is connected with the whole ethical side of things that was one of the main reasons for that first conscious living post, but you’d be wrong. I’ve done jobs in the past which haven’t added anything positive to the world, and they sapped my strength and left me no energy for knitting. I’ve committed to far too many things, and ended up driving all over the place, chasing my tail, and having no time for walking. I’ve spent nights watching the tv for hours, and felt frustrated that there’s no time for voluntary work.
For me at least, everything is connected.
I read a post on a forum once, a very long time ago, that I’ve never been able to find again. It was in a thread full of people talking about moving to the countryside, dropping out of the rat race, slowing down, that type of thing. I remember a fair few negative words – I’d never be able to afford a house in the country, we need to be near my children’s school, I wouldn’t be able to get to work, I’m sure you can imagine.
One woman said she’d thought the same, until one day she sat down, and made a list of all the things she thought she’d love about living in the countryside. Making jam, going for walks on meandering footpaths, popping into friends’ houses for cups of tea, knitting, sitting by the fire, growing vegetables, a sense of community – sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Instead of waiting until she won the lottery and could move to the countryside, she made those things her new years resolutions.
She learned how to make jam, started growing vegetables in a little corner of the garden, learned to knit, and got to know people who lived nearby.
I was really struck by that post, and would love to thank that unknown person for her insight. I don’t have to wait until my life is perfect, I can start doing the things I want to do right now, and slowly they’ll crowd out the things I like doing less.
I still work full time, live in a city, have a tiny little garden, and sometimes feel like I have no time for anything at all. But my life is so much better when I squeeze a bit of knitting into my evenings, when I make the effort to get out for a walk before it goes dark, when I pop to a friend’s house for a cuppa, when I lie on the sofa in the sunshine for 20 minutes, when I make my own bread, when I grow salad on the windowsill…
Lately, my thoughts have been turning to chickens. I’d love to have chickens in my life. I can’t keep them here, my garden is far too small, and I have no intention of moving house any time soon. But I do a fair bit of reading about other people’s chickens. We spent a fortnight chicken-sitting for Fay up in Orkney last year. We often amble past the chickens at the school up the road. And now I’ve found myself a lovely little community farm to volunteer at occasionally.
I arrived there this morning, and someone asked what I’d like to do. ‘I fancy playing with the chickens’, says I.
And I spent 2 hours shovelling chicken poo. I suppose I should be careful what I wish for.
On the whole, I’m reasonably happy with how I spend my time right now. I’d rather work less hours, and I’m planning how to do that in the future. But I manage a little bit of time at the community garden, and occasionally the community farm too. Not every week, and only a couple of hours at a time, but the memory of it keeps me going all week (even if it is the memory of that pile of chicken poo). I have a flute lesson every couple of weeks, which keeps me on my toes. Sometimes I knit or crochet (see those new orange arm warmers in the picture at the top?). One of the reasons I keep this little blog is to remind myself to do plenty of cheery things.
What about you? How do you spend your time? What would you like to do more of?